Le Guin's Hayiya-if Symbol For Wiscon
I decided a while ago that I wanted to make a special pendant for Wiscon every year, starting now. I spent a long time trying to think about what would be wonderful to make and feeling blank. Then I realized what I wanted to do and went "of course".

I'm going to make pendants inspired by books written by Wiscon Guests of Honor.

The first one will be a Heyiya-if pendant, a holy symbol for the Kesh, from Ursula Leguin's "Always Coming Home". It took very long time to carve, but it's done and I will be making the black silver pendants in the next 2 weeks before Wiscon. I'm so pleased that the wax is done and that I'm _very_ happy with it, that I'm not being superstitious and I'm writing about it before they are actually cast.

I am very done for the day and looking forward to Wiscon.

The picture is from Wikipedia

Sea Shaped Baltic Amber And Wiscon Rings
(crossposted on dreamwidth as laurieopal)

Just finished carving the waxes of new rings for Wiscon. Including a gorgeous large gold flecked lapis, a glowing orange sun stone and a delicate moonstone.

This is a photo of a pendant created with a Baltic amber shaped by the sea and then polished. I was lucky enough to find a very small group of these when I was in Helsinki last June. I looked through a couple of hundred stones to find them. The black amber is quite rare.

tracy amber_0502

It's silver and the small stone is a black sapphire. (So dark a blue as to appear black but with a deep sparkle.)  Actual size is about 1.75" From the collection of Tracy Schmidt.

Octopus and Not At Norwescon
I photographed the octopus ring with the sapphire and the black diamonds and it came out well! It's 2" long and I can't wait to put up the photo but it will have to wait til the woman who commissioned it sees the ring.

The Chinese cliff,waterfall and pine tree design for a lovely black and light green jade has cast beautifully. It still needs to be polished and have the stone set.

And I've finished the pearl winged dragonfly.

And I wanted to remind folks that I won't be at Norwescon. I will be in Seattle later in the year so get in touch if you's like to see me when I'm there.

Chinese/ US Feminist Exhibition
(cross-posted on dreamwidth as laurieopal)

I wrote a while ago in Body Impolitic that my portrait of Fumiko Nakamura was part of an exhibit of Chinese and US women artists at the Luxon Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang, China.  It's an international project of the Women's Caucus of the Arts.  It opens on April 15th in Shenyang.

The Luxun Academy of Arts was founded in 1938 by Communist Party of China leaders, including Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai.

The theme “Women hold up half the sky" quotes Chairman Mao Zedong’s famous statement.  The intent is to explore the role that social practice art has in changing the world.  It's an art-based cultural exchange and exhibition between US artists and essayists juried through the WCA and women artists curated in China.

I wanted to focus in this post on the work by the Chinese artists.  It's a beautiful collection of diverse work.  This was the work that spoke to me the most at the moment.

Liu Zhi Yin
liu zhi yin

Born After 1980 Sculpture

As the first generation born under China’s one child policy, We grew up alone, in our own mental world. Our creative works are based more on personal experiences, feelings, but we also incorporate a number of popular visual elements, symbols found in fashion or cartoon. I blend all the ingredients together and use a cartoonish visual schema to describe life, capturing the souls of my generation and emphasizing a kind of self-analysis and individual experience. My work looks pretty even though it vaguely reveals sad feelings. In a metaphorical way, I want to present the loneliness, uncertainty and dullness felt by the born after 80’s generation, behind our prosperous material life style.

Jiang Xiao Mei

jiang xiao mei

Creative concepts: the Prosperous World series is made from ancient Chinese coins, using transparent fishing line to tie bronze coins together and form an image of either a chair or clothing. A chair symbolizes a position of power. Clothing symbolizes beauty and splendor. The work, being sealed in a transparent protective shield, gives an impression of grandeur and prosperity. However, the overall shape is very fragile. If each individual coin changes position, the chair and clothing can be easily destroyed. The sense of instability represents the relationship between money, power and prosperity.

Yuan Jia
Yuan Jia

The Prelude of Resurrection Sculpture

In my work, modeling and shaping wood is not the point. The mastery of the texture and characteristics of wood as a medium is not of much significance to me. The desire that leads me to realize a certain feel for a piece of work comes from my love for decorative structures that can only exist in the virtual world of wood in my memory. Through the paradox and the emotional dislocation felt in my work, I try to convey something dramatic that resembles an experience of sudden acquisition of a noble sense of purpose.

Perhaps because of the work I do i was particularly taken by the sculpture.  I love the pig.

I'm delighted to be part of this exhibition and I'll be writing about the US artists next week.

Woolly Willow from Iceland
(cross-posted on dreamwidth as laurieopal)

When I was in Iceland last June I saw a low lying plant with white cotton like puffs. It's a hard land for growing things and these seemed, relatively speaking, to be flourishing. I was very taken with how they looked and tried to find out their names in English. I carried a sample with me but even people very fluent in English couldn't tell me the name.

Fortunately I found a really good book on Icelandic plants before I left and discovered it was called woolly willow. And that I had seen the very early spring stage of the plant.

The name is a bit of a tongue twister for me to the amusement of my friends.

I very much wanted to make a pendant design using woolly willow. I decided to make the pendant with a lava beach stone that I gathered on a very rainy beach on the Snæfellsnes peninsula.

The pendant is lava and pearls.  It's silver and approximately 1.75   I'm showing it at this size so the fine detail in the lava is clearer in the photo.  It's very clear in reality.

It's from the collection of Tracy Schmidt.

There were a number of other plants, mostly micro flora, that I found exceptionally beautiful in Iceland.  I expect that some of them will be showing up in my future work.

Jelly Fish and China Exhibition
(cross-posted on dreamwidth as laurieopal)

My photograph for the Chinese exhibition in Shenyang arrived there!!  So I can relax about that.  I'll be writing a post about it soon.  It opens on April 15th.

If you read Body Impolitic the site is back up.  It was down most of last week becasue of a malware attack but thanks to our webmaster things are back to normal. Deb just put up a great links post

I've been carving waxes intensely and the pearl dragonfly and several other pieces are cast.  Next is polishing and setting.  It's great to be settling in to do lots of design work.

Photo is of a boulder opal jelly fish that was made for Elyse Seigle.  The idea of using this opal for a jelly fish was hers.  As soon as she suggested it I realized how perfect it was and was rather shocked that it had not occurred to me. There is a very delicate ruby floating on the jelly fish tentacle.  It's silver and about 1.5"

On another note my cat George explored the garden for the first time.  Carefully, tentatively and with great joy.

News, Spiders and Flies
(cross-posted as laurieopal on dreamwidth)

Sadly, I won't be at Norwescon this year.  I'm really going to miss seeing people.  I will be in Seattle later in the year.  If you's like to know about it get in touch.  And of course I'll be in Spokane in 2015.

Just sent the photo of Fumiko Nakamura to the  exhibition at the Luxon Academy of Fine Arts in China yesterday.  Serendipitously also received the catalogue of the exhibition in the mail.  The catalogue is beautiful and the back cover page has one of my photos on it (with several others.)  Will be posting at length about it when it's closer.  It opens April 15th.

And this spider and fly pendant is silver with a stunning rutilated quartz and a faceted garnet.  Size is approximately 2.5"  It's from the collection of David and Pierce Ludke.  A spider design for the quartz was their idea.  I added the fly.  It was a challenging pleasure to make.

The Stars Change: Pendant Of The City
(crossposted on dreamwidth as laurieopal)

I've been writing about making as pendant for Mary Anne Mohanraj from her book "The Stars Change".  I really like making designs for writers from their books.   I was delighted with how the pendant worked out.

I wrote this while it was a work on process:

"I've been working on  a silver pendant from her book "The Stars Change" for Mary Anne Mohanraj.  I've written about it before.  Tonight I finished the Mughal palace.  (I've been looking at photos of Mughal palaces for quite a while.) The other buildings are mostly carved, although all of them need final work.  The tower of art will have to be last because it's 3 dimensional nature makes it very fragile for a work in progress.  I also blocked out today the warrens beneath the city.  The pendant is less than 2" high and obviously it's stylized.Thought folks might be interested in the quote I'm referencing.

"There were a few other cities on this world, but none nearly so large, so glittering..... The medical complex, bright and white and vast.  .  The mathematical eyrie clung to the side of a mountain, not far below the astronomer's peak.  The psychologists had built themselves a maze to navigate; mastering it was a graduation requirement.  The tower of art centered the campus, a frothy creation of violet spun steel.  And the historians lived within a vast Mughal palace, a testament to the glories of their ancestors."

I sent it to her a while ago and she loved it.  It's  a hard piece to photograph but I think this image gives an idea of it.  If you look carefully at the "warren" in the lower part of the design you can see a cat face (on the right) and a reptile tail (on the left).  They are much more detailed in the actual pendant.


I'm now back mostly making art after spending as always more post travel time than I want ( however necessary) catching up on the support work.  I'm sending the photo for the Chinese exhibition next week and will write more about it soon.

Almost Back Again
(crossposted on dreamwidth as laurieopal)

I'm back from very relaxing down time. Unfortunately, my new cat George did not do well, in spite of excellent cat sitting. Her really pined. I'm going to have to figure this out before I go away again.

And I'm thinking about designs - can't seem to help it. Did not come back with new stones which is probably just as well since I have a magnificent group from my lapidary to look through.

And I'm delighted Nisi Shawl is the fourth panelist on my proposed Wiscon panel, Time, Contingency, Memory – As Elements of Art, along with Pat Murphy and Debbie Notkin. . If you're a member of WisCon, you can check "I would like to attend this panel" on the programming web site the panel is the very last one in the "Feminism and Other Social Change Movements" category. I posted about it right before I left. I think Monday is the last day.

Will take one more day to reenter and do some garden work then Monday I'm fully back in the world.

Memory Landscapes: A Life in Time
(cross-posted on dreamwidth as laurieopal)

I wrote about my new project a for the first time as part of a post  on Body Impolitic about a photo Choice exhibition catalogue called High Stakes.  I've proposed a panel
at Wiscon  Time, Contingency, Memory – As Elements of Art. The new project is tentatively called Memory Landscapes: A Life in Time.  If you're a member of WisCon, you can check "I would like to attend this panel" on the programming web site the panel is the very last one in the "Feminism and Other Social Change Movements" category.

I’ve been thinking through the complexities in fascinating conversations with literary friends, especially Debbie Notkin and Pat Murphy, who are on the panel.  I want it to be the basis of larger conversations with them  and the audience.  About how our concepts and narratives of time are expressed in our work and how we see our lives in time.

As many of you know, I've been a photographer for 25 years, doing black & white fine-art darkroom social change portraits. I realized at the end of my 25-year series of portrait projects that I wanted to do something completely new and different.
I wanted to create a memoir.  I'm 72, and have had a long and complicated life.  I started thinking about memory, and how what is remarkable is not how much we forget, but rather how much we remember.

After a lot of time, thought, and less-than-successful experiments, I realized that my memories are not linear - because "inside the head everything happens at once." (Penelope Lively)  Linear narrative is a useful construct, but it's not how we actually remember.  I want to re-engage with the memories of my life, to create an autobiographical visual memoir, to express the poetics of non-linear time.

Memories are filtered, by who we are now, who we were then, and what has happened in between.  We view our past through layers of memory, and the past is everything that happened except this moment.

Photographing my memories is a way of capturing moments in time.  Not mythic moments, but images constructed from carefully chosen real objects, some only for aesthetics, many relics from my life through time.  Objects are arranged and contexted to express narratives that are autobiographical slices of my life.

I had already been thinking about iPad art, separately from any project.  With an iPad, for the first time one can make work where viewers everywhere see the original art, not reproductions or recreations.  iPad art is also illuminated from within, presenting the opportunity to express the layering of memory.  In a sense, I am creating memory landscapes that are iPad still lifes.

The project's first three photographs (of a projected 25) are included as work samples.  One, "My Father and I," includes:  photobooth pictures of my father (1932); a hundred-dollar bill; fragments of a shot glass; a black hacksaw blade; razor blades with our mutual initials; his cremation tags; and marigolds for mourning - all on an illuminated background of gray silk.

Making the images starts with thinking about the memories, the histories, and what initial objects will express them.  Then the objects are arranged, rearranged, remade, contextualized, often replaced.  The image evolves, is demolished, rebuilt, until the final memory landscape emerges.

I'm looking forward to many conversations that explore and enlarge on what I've been thinking.

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